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Kansas native leads Jaguars to first Gold Cup
by Paul Kennedy, July 9th, 2013 2AM
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TAGS:  gold cup, men's national team

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[USA-BELIZE]Ian Mork's profile on Linkedin lists him as Belize "A" national team head coach but it also describes him as a "technical advisor, scout, lead trainer" in the San Francisco Bay Area -- a jack of all trades, if you will, like so many coaches trying to make a living in soccer.

Mork works for U.S. Club Soccer's player development program and as a coach for Ballistic United, but his role as a part-time scout for U.S. Soccer means he'll be in the unique position of coaching Belize Tuesday night against the U.S. national team, the team that he grew up rooting for in his native Kansas and that he now, indirectly at least, works for.

The Gold Cup is a big deal for Belize, but it is all new for the Jaguars, who held fundraisers back home and are still seeking donations online to pay for their trip.

Belize is the only Central American team to have never played in the Concacaf tournament, but the Jaguars qualified for the Gold Cup when they finished second in their group at the 2013 Copa Centroamericana.

Qualifying for the Gold Cup isn't difficult in Central America, where five of seven teams go through, but Belize had never qualified until this year when it finished ahead of Guatemala thanks to a 2-1 win over Nicaragua in its final game on Deon McCaulay's goal in stoppage time.

McCaulay plays for the Belmopan Bandits, Mork's connection to Belize. After a playing career in which he played indoors with the Wichita Wings and in the Netherlands with AFC Quick, he moved into coaching, working for many years in Sonoma County in Northern California.

Thanks to Rene Montero, a teammate at Sangamon State and now the Belize assistant coach, Mork moved to Belize, where Montero helped set him up as a coach with the Bandits.

Mork didn't coach the Jaguars at the Copa Centroamericana, but he had experience coaching against Concacaf giants -- Belize lost to Mexico 7-0 and 2-0 in 2010 World Cup qualifying -- which made him a perfect choice for the task of coaching the Jaguars against the host United States Tuesday in Portland.

Participating in the Gold Cup is not something the Football Federation of Belize budgeted for. It organized two friendlies for the Jaguars against Trinidad & Tobago and Guatemala -- their first in three years -- and they managed to secure 0-0 ties in both games.

The Belize City Council and Belize Tourism Board organized fundraisers -- barbecue, dance and concert -- to pay for the trip, but the Football Federation of Belize was still seeking donations on its Web site.

On the home page, it was asking for supporters to "contrubute $1 to FFB today."


1 comment
  1. David Crowther
    commented on: July 9, 2013 at 1:17 p.m.
    Much of the credit for Belize's first qualification to the Gold Cup has to go to the Tico coach who got them through the UNCAF tournament by organizing and solidifying their defense. We'll have to see if Mork has been able to keep them playing at that level.

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